COVID-19 is rapidly changing the way we go about our daily lives. For most of us, this global pandemic will undoubtedly cause a lot of stress, anxiety and feelings of depression. During this time of uncertainty, one thing is certain: we must remain positive and look after our mental health and well-being.
Although we may be in a situation where self-isolation is required, we must remember that we are all in this together. If we take this time of isolation to focus on our mental health and well-being, as well as the well-being of our family, friend group and wider community, we will all come out of this stronger, healthier, and more connected than ever.
Here are 5 ways to improve your mental health and well-being during COVID-19 that will help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
Create a ‘Can-Do’ List
During this time of self-isolation, we are repeatedly being told what we can’t do. I’m sure we can all make a long list of the things we are not meant to do during this time, or simply cannot do due to being self-isolated. But what about the things we can still do? Instead of focusing on the negatives and losses, train your brain to focus on the good and consciously choose to change your perspective.
Create a ‘Can-Do’ List. Think of all the things you can still do, write them down, and do them. This list may be different for everyone depending on our unique situations, but a few simple ‘can-dos’ connect us all.
We can still get fresh air; open a window or sit in the sun. We can still listen to music, dance, stretch and exercise. We can still read, write and create art. We can still cook, eat and focus on our well-being. We can take time to reflect, ponder and dream.
Most importantly, we can take time to turn inward and check on how we are doing mentally. Checking on our own emotions during this unprecedented time and consciously choosing to maintain a positive perspective means that we can continue to grow as individuals. Take comfort in the knowledge that we will grow more resilient and mentally strong through this time of adversity, if we choose to.
Stay connected. It really is that simple. Just because we may have to isolate ourselves does not mean we have to disconnect from others. Although we are in a time of distance, it is essential we stick together and check on each other to ensure that we are all keeping healthy and positive.
Use Facetime, Skype and other forms of social media that allows you to stay connected with your distant loved ones. Don’t cancel plans; ring your friend over coffee at home or set an online movie date with your significant other. Show your support for others in your community by reaching out to those who are alone or at-risk. This may mean giving them a call to check if they’re okay or dropping off some food on their doorstep if they cannot go out on their own.
Connection with others is crucial for one’s mental health and well-being, especially now. So, make sure you form a support system with encouraging friends and family to call whenever you need and vice versa. This will help boost your spirits and reduce feelings of loneliness, anxiety and depression.
Limit Anxiety Triggers
At the moment it feels like everyone is talking about COVID-19. There may be a lot of fear and misinformation spreading which can trigger intense feelings of stress, anxiety and depression. That’s why it is important that you stay informed, not in-stress.
You can be in control of what information you read, hear and absorb during this overwhelming time. Make sure you follow credible sources you can trust and take their advice, that’s all you need to do.
Try your best to limit anxiety triggers for your own peace of mind. It’s okay to switch off the news, reduce your social media intake and ask your friends or family not to panic you by constantly discussing COVID-19, if that is what’s best for your mental health. This will allow you to focus your mindset on more positive things and ultimately minimise feelings of stress, anxiety and depression.
Implement a Positive Routine
Things may feel out of control, but you can create order for yourself while in self-isolation. There is no better time than now to start implementing a positive routine to help boost your mental health and well-being.
We recommend setting a sleep/wake up schedule to help create a sense of structure and control. During the day, make sure you include something for your brain, soul and heart: do a crossword to keep your mind active, meditate to bring peace and bake to make you happy. Your hobbies will dictate what is important to have in your routine.
Prioritise looking after your body; drink lots of water and eat colourful food to boost your immunity. Exercise is also super important to include in your routine. It is a great way to improve your mental health and well-being, so make sure you set time aside to take a walk outside in the fresh air or stretch to some music.
This may be pretty self-explanatory, but sometimes we just need to hear it: if you feel tired, rest. You are allowed to slow down, sleep in and lounge around if it helps you relax and recharge.
We recommend practicing breath-awareness meditation if you are in need of a mental break. As a form of mindfulness meditation, it combines both conscious meditation and breathing techniques to help reduce negative thoughts and feelings of anxiety. It requires you to let go of outside distractions in order to centre your focus solely on your breath. This may sound hard given the current situation we are in, but the mental benefits you will feel are definitely worth it.
If you feel completely overwhelmed, try the 4/7/8 breathing technique: breathe in deeply through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7, then breathe out through your mouth slowly for 8 seconds. Repeat this cycle at least 4 times or until you feel your mind and body relax.
If you want to do something productive and worthwhile with your time while self-isolating, study with TrainSmart Australia. You can check out how to study with TrainSmart Australia during COVID-19 here.